JV Ejercito seeks amendments to EPIRA law 

Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito on Thursday, May 25 reiterated his call for Congress to revisit the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), noting that it has failed to bring down the cost of electricity in the country.

Ejercito said it is “possible to amend” the law “because EPIRA didn’t live up to its intention of lowering price of electricity through healthy competition.”

What was accomplished, he noted, was the privatization of the National Power Corp. (NAPOCOR) power plants and the transmission lines.  

“But as to the lower rates, it just didn’t happen,” Ejercito lamented, saying the privatization of energy companies failed to promote competition, which was expected to lower the price of electricity across the board.

"The intention was really to encourage competition and bring down the prices of electricity. Ang nangyari po, natuloy po ang privatization ng NAPOCOR power plants, pati ng transmission (What happened was the privatization of NAPOCOR power plants pushed through, including transmission lines),” he said.

“Ang di lang natuloy ay yung pagbaba ng presyo ng kuryente. Ang EPIRA, mukhang ipinera lang (What it failed to do was to lower the price of electricity. The EPIRA was just about money),” he said of the law which was enacted in 2001.

The EPIRA, he noted, was enacted to restructure the country's energy sector and deregulate and privatize the power industry.

But widespread power outages in different parts of the country and the high cost of electricity have prompted lawmakers to study possible amendments to the said law. 

The matter was repeatedly raised during the Senate Committee on Energy’s hearing on Wednesday, May 24 where senators grilled the Department of Energy (DOE), Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and other pertinent agencies such as the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) over the high cost of electricity in the country.

Aside from conducting a review of the EPIRA, Ejercito said lawmakers and pertinent agencies should also look into the performance of energy companies operating in the country.

Ejercito pointed to the NGCP, which 40 percent of its operations is currently owned by the State Grid Corporation of China.

"It’s about time that we consider a review of EPIRA as a whole and likewise conduct a performance audit on the different entities, including the NGCP, whether they are performing up to par," Ejercito said.

Given the country's ongoing disputes with China, Ejercito said a performance audit on the NGCP would be timely.

"It’s more than the performance. It’s a national security issue," he said.